Summer Outside The Box

Director's Chair

THIS TIME OF year is marked by the easy-going pleasures of backyard grilling, non-challenging “beach” reading, family vacations, ballgames, and, for those of us lucky enough, weekends by the pool or lake. Summer has become the mindless interlude we get for surviving the post-New Year’s Push before we face the Fall onslaught.

But these so-called “lazy, crazy days” are also a great time to free our brains to think outside the proverbial box. We at Apprenticely—the new name itself the result of just such free thinking—are always aware of the need for continuous improvement, no matter what the season. In this issue of our newsletter, National Apprenticeship Director Lonnie Emard provides an impressive line-up of new apprenticeship and work-based-learning efforts. And speaking of the newsletter, I want to commend Editor James Morgan and Marketing Director Clint Hankinson for the new look of our monthly message. They began re-tooling it last month, and have continued that work with this issue, all in an attempt to bring you relevant, engaging content—be sure to check out the A.I. video—in a less fussy format. I think it’s a definite upgrade.

So as we continue to reflect on re-setting objectives and establishing smart goals—meaning goals that are measurable and have impactful results—our baseline is in our latest annual report. Our objectives have to start with, one, employer demand for skills—how do we get more employers to hear and understand the benefits of a supplemental staffing strategy using the apprenticeship program? And, two, with reaching underserved Arkansans who deserve a shot at a higher paying job and a quality career for themselves and their families.

Automation and technology tools help with the introductions, but the real work is human, one-to-one. Each employer is unique, and we need to listen very closely in order to understand their requirements so we can help them solve their problems. At the same time, each candidate who applies has to begin with where they are individually, which determines how we get them “employer ready” through pre-apprentice training, coaching, and mock interviews before that real job interview. It’s a year-round challenge, one that we continue to relish. Even as we flip the burgers on the grill.

–Bill Yoder
Executive Director